LONDON – Frank Gore: runner, blocker, pass catcher mystic?
Jim Harbaugh thinks so.
"The more I get to know Frank – I just love him so much," the 49ers' head coach told KNBR radio hosts Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey on Tuesday. "He's a mystic, a mystical type of guy. He's got a connection to, a spiritual connection. He sees more than most of us do. A very deep guy, very special person, love him to death."
Harbaugh isn't the first member of the 49ers' brass to point out Gore's savant-like qualities. Former coach Mike Nolan and former general manager Scot McCloughan said similar things about Gore, who had an eyebrow-raising low Wonderlic score before the 2005 draft but has been one of the 49ers' most intelligent players.
McCloughan and Nolan said Gore also has an uncanny eye for knowing which young players will and won't succeed. McCloughan even said he would hire Gore as a scout when his playing career is over.
Of course, Gore, 30, isn't quitting his day job anytime soon. He's fourth in the NFL with 547 rushing yards. And while he doesn't have the breakaway speed he had in 2006, he leads the league in runs of 20 or more yards with seven. Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, 24, and Washington running back Alfred Morris, 24, are tied for second with five.
"He's one of those guys who are very inspirational – through his action and what he says, but mostly what he does," Harbaugh said. "He's one of those guys who can see things, can point them out. Has a great mind for football."
Harbaugh also told KNBR he didn't think the injuries to starters Donte Whitner (knee) and Eric Reid (ankle) were serious.
"Nothing to alarm me, I don't think," he said.
The 49ers will learn more during today's first full practice of the week in preparation for Sunday's game against Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium.
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.